Veteran Thaksin ally, son defect to fight poll for Chart Thai Pattana
A veteran Chiang Rai politician who was elected several times under Thaksin Shinawatra-linked parties has defected along with his son to fight the next election under the coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party.
Surasit Chiamwichak and his son Wanchai were welcomed as Chart Thai Pattana members by party leader Varawut Silpa-archa during a press conference on Tuesday.
Varawut expressed confidence that the father-son combination would win the two MP seats for Chart Thai Pattana.
Varawut said Surasit would contest the election in Chiang Rai’s constituency 3 while Wanchai would contest in constituency 2.
When told that the opposition Pheu Thai Party is targeting all 30 MP seats in northern provinces, including Chiang Rai, Varawut admitted his party was not as big but said he would try to increase its size gradually.
“I believe Pheu Thai will sweep seats in other constituencies, but not these two,” he added.
Surasit was first elected as a Chiang Rai MP in 1995 under the Solidarity Party. He was re-elected as an MP for Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party in 2005, then as a People Power Party MP in 2007 and a Pheu Thai MP in 2011.
Before joining Chart Thai Pattana, he was courted by fellow coalition party Sarng Anakot Thai, led by Sontirat Sontijirawong, and became its northern division’s leader.
Varawut told reporters that he had been in talks with Surasit and his son for a while and they shared a similar political ideology.
Varawut dismissed questions about a possible rift with Sarng Anakot Thai for “stealing” its would-be election candidates, saying party hopping was normal in politics.
He noted that several incumbent MPs from other parties used to be members of either Chart Thai or Chart Pattana. The two parties merged to become Chart Thai Pattana.
“Changing parties and changing election candidates is a normal thing in democratic politics. We have seen this kind of practice for a long time,” Varawut said, comparing politics to a football league in which players switch teams at the end of the season.
He said his party would announce new members and election candidates over the next six to seven months before the election.
He forecast Chart Thai Pattana would win 25 to 30 House seats at the next election, which is due next March at the latest.
He expressed confidence that his party would win five seats in Suphan Buri, the Silpa-archa clan’s stronghold, and more seats in Nakhon Pathom, the political base of the Sasomsup family, key members of the party.
Meanwhile, Surasit told the press conference that he decided to join Chart Thai Pattana because he saw it as a political party with no taint of corruption.
“And I’m confident that Varawut has potential to rise to the post of prime minister, so my son and I are pledging our future to Chart Thai Pattana. The party will definitely make its debut in Chiang Rai through us,” Surasit said.
Surasit said he was confident of defeating Wisaradee Tejathirawat, Pheu Thai’s young candidate for the seat.
Pheu Thai has said it will field Wisaradee in constituency 3 and her father, Wikrom Tejathirawat, another veteran politician, in constituency 2.